An interesting search term on dating gone wrong turned up this morning and as so many of the search terms seem to query in that direction, I thought it might be a good one to address.
What does it mean when dating “goes wrong”?
In general terms, it probably alludes to the fact that more often than not, we don’t get what we want out of the experience. For whatever reason, two people are left frustrated and hurt and no longer together.
This is not a widow thing.
I know that widowed are schooled by the various grief outlets to believe that anything that gets in the way of a new relationship is related to grief in some way, but this is an over-generalization. If a person takes the time to look back at pre-marriage dating or even conducts a brief tour of the internet via googling “dating issues”, he/she would find that things going wrong is fairly common in the dating world and widowhood has hardly cornered an exclusive market as a reason why.
Usually, when relationships develop anything from hiccups to major breakdowns, the culprit is a difference of unspoken expectations and a difficulty or unwillingness to engage in direct communication about them.
I have said it before – often – that when venturing back into the singles scene, it’s better to have thought about why and what you expect from it and be ready to articulate that to those you date upfront. This way the likelihood of beginning a relationship with someone who is unsuitable is smaller.
Of course, this is not how dating happens. Dating and relationships in our modern culture tend to be stumbled upon via chance and hook-ups by people who haven’t really fleshed out their own motives for getting involved with another person.
From there, they lurch from one step to the next in a state of giddy inattention to details – good and bad – until one or both realize that the direction isn’t where they envisioned themselves heading. And then? Things have gone wrong.
There are no rules for dating again. There aren’t really formal rules in general for most of what passes for coupling in our modern age, but there are some things that are best thought about and really considered before jumping back in the game.
Why do I want to date?
What are my expectations of dating and of anyone who I might date?
What am I bringing to the table for someone else?
How will dating impact my life today? 10 weeks from now? 10 months? 10 years?
Am I a casual or serious dater?
Do I want to marry again? Have a committed relationship? Just hook up?
Am I able to date and not expect those I date to play the role of my therapist?
Can I set boundaries with my kids? Family? Friends? where my life as an adult is concerned?
Do I understand that dating can be emotionally unsettling and can stir up my feelings of loss and that I will have to really handle that myself?
And that’s just to name a few.
I don’t think most people really think about what they want before they begin to date again and I think that it is only by trying to date that you really begin to clarify your reasons and refine your methods. But, I don’t think that avoiding dating until you “feel better” or are “over the loss of your late spouse” are particularly helpful either because neither of those things are ever going to happen. There is no such thing as closure. There is just acceptance of reality and deciding to move on.
Which brings it down to this really. Moving on is a choice you eventually are ready to make. Dating is sometimes part of this but not always. There are no guarantees when you move on or date that life will suddenly be wonderful again. Wonderful is subjective and getting there takes time and personal effort. Magical solutions are no more real than unicorns.
Dating sometimes goes wrong. When it does, it will either work out with time, effort and communication; or it won’t and the relationship will end.
You may or may not meet your next great love right out of the box.
I entered the dating world again at about 6 months out. I met a lot of men. Some were nice but uninteresting. Some were neither nice nor interesting, A few were douchebags. And then I met Rob. We put time and effort into getting to know each other and deciding there was a basis for dating, commitment, engagement and marriage.
Rob met me right out of the box. Pretty much like he met his late wife. My husband has always been a pretty darn lucky man in that respect.
There is nothing wrong with you if dating goes wrong. It is not a sign from the heavens that it was too soon or that you are destined to be that sad lonely old widow in the nursing home weeping over photos of a long dead spouse.
It just means that you and this person weren’t suited. That happens. Walk it off. Consider what you might do differently the next time and when you are ready, try again. Or take a break. Or rethink the whole idea and give up on it.
This is your life. You only get this one once.